Given the evident advantage that the country derives from navigation and trade and given the country’s topography which is completely flat, agriculture – which is the most important resource – has reached a very high development.
And it can be deduced especially from the high percentage of arable fields (62.5%) which is the highest that occurs in Europe and from the very high yield that is obtained from crops (up to 34 quintals of wheat per hectare).
In the last century, according to smber, agriculture has been improving more and more. Without taking into account forest cultivation, it occupies 31.1% of the population compared to 60% in 1834. In 1919 sq km. 33,497 of land, or 62.5% of the total, was arable; 12.5% was represented by meadows, pastures; 7% from gardens, parks, etc.; 1.3% from swamps; 8.5% from forests and plantations; 7.7% from moorlands; 0.9% from dunes and quicksand; 3.1% from streets, houses, etc.; 3.1% from water surfaces. The percentage of cultivated land, as already mentioned, is one of the highest among European countries.
Generally the agricultural property is divided, in fact 24% of the cultivated territory is occupied by smaller farms of 15 hectares; 53% from farms of 15-60 hectares. Only 419 farms exceed 240 hectares: just 4.4% of the total territory.
Many and intense care has been lavished by the government and private individuals to increase and improve the arable land; the reclamation of wetlands, the draining of small bays and lakes, the cultivation of moors and marshes have now been carried out well.
Until the middle of the last century, agriculture was centered on the production of cereals, but competition from the United States, Argentina and Russia led farmers to prefer livestock farming as cheaper. With the cooperative movement, which had its beginnings in 1822, the peasants succeeded in perfecting production and facilitating its trade.
The development has been so remarkable that today there are in Denmark in 1200 cooperative dairies which sell the milk of about 1, the millions of cows from 155,000 farms; there are also 45 slaughterhouses and 90,000 farms with a million pigs. These butchers, dairies, and egg centers, all social enterprises, later became the model for similar institutions that had sprung up in other countries.
Education, state control bodies and private providence have contributed to initially improve and subsequently guarantee the quality of individual products.
Approximately 1 / 3 of the total area is intended for grain harvest; when overseas production is abundant and therefore prices remain low, part of the harvest is used for fodder. Wheat is grown only on the best soil, that is, mostly in East Jütland. Rye, on the other hand, also grows on the poorest soil in western and northern Jütland, and the yield per hectare is therefore poorer. 93% of Danish barley is Hordeum vulgare distichum. Of the cereals, the most common, especially in northern and western Jütland, is oats, for which, like barley, only the Netherlands and Belgium have more abundant harvests. Normally 1 / 3 – 1 /4 of the consumption of wheat and rye is covered by imports, while the oat and barley crop is almost sufficient for the needs of the country. More or less the 4 / 5 of the land cultivated with potatoes are in Jutland. Among the root vegetables, swede and rapeseed are most common on the same soil. Half of the land planted with beetroot is located in the Laaland-Falster islands (23,500 hectares); the rest in the southern part of Zealand, in the northern part of Funen; the country is almost self-sufficient for sugar. However, there is no doubt that agriculture in Denmark is essentially used for the breeding of livestock. The fallows are continuously decreasing; only 37,800 hectares of land are now completely uncultivated.
As of July 15, 1926, the status of the cattle was as follows: 548,405 horses; 2,838,212 cattle, of which 1,479,812 cows; 2,122,326 pigs; 232,659 sheep; 24,533 goats and 18.5 million chickens. With regard to horses, cattle and pigs, the figures are, in proportion to the area, higher than those of any other country. In Denmark, plowing is done with horses rather than oxen. The most important export item is butter, which, both in quality and quantity, holds the first place on the world market. As an exporter of condensed milk, which is sold mostly to England, Germany, and the tropical European colonies, Denmark is second only to the United States and the Netherlands. Lard and pork are articles which, by export value, immediately follow butter; they are mainly exported to England. Live cattle and fresh meat, on the other hand, are mainly sold in Germany.
The area covered by woods and plantations extended in 1923 on 3216 sq km. (about 8% of the total area): the beech trees covered 1000 sq. km., the conifers (mainly Picea excelsa) 1753 sq. km. The good forest organization means that the annual product is about 1.2 million kmc., The value of 26 million crowns in 1923. Denmark is able to supply its own needs for beech wood, but the remaining construction timber and wooden objects are to be imported for about 100 million crowns per year. About 0.7% of the population awaited the forests in 1925.